With all due respect to Cameron Maybin, Carlos Ruiz, and Vidal Nuno, the offseason isn’t really underway yet. Roster tweaks are being made, sure, but the blockbuster moves are some time off, and for the majority of people, the 2016 season remains fairly fresh in the memory. The World Series is less than a week in the rear-view mirror, so I wanted to seize this chance to run the same polling project I ran after the end of the 2015 season. It’s time for me to analyze your fan psychology. All I need is your collective participation!
This is a post for fans of teams in the American League. The National League post will go up early Tuesday morning. If your favorite team plays in the AL, please take a moment to provide your response. If both your favorite teams play in the AL, please take two moments. If all three of your favorite teams play in — you see where this is going. You’re not an idiot. You read FanGraphs.
This should be very simple. It’s also probably something you could overthink, but I just want to know how your fan experience was over the last several months. Did you have a good time with baseball in 2016? Did baseball beat the emotional crap out of you? Was your favorite team a disappointment? Is it even possible for your favorite team to disappoint? Did you love going to the ballpark no matter what, or watching a new game every evening? There are so many variables that could go into this, but I’m going to guess the right answer will come to you. I’ll analyze all the results later this week. Thank you in advance for being good and helpful people.
All the polls are below. Hopefully the anchor text works to send you to your team directly!
The Angels finished with their worst record since 1999, when the GM was Bill Bavasi and the managers were Terry Collins and Joe Maddon. The best player on the team was probably Randy Velarde. This year, again, at least the Angels’ best player was the game’s best player. That’s a good thing to try to get used to. I don’t know how much it does for a fan, though, when the rest of the team sucks. The Angels seemed to have a decent shot, but a wave of pitching injuries crippled the club before it could find its footing.
I’m going to guess it probably doesn’t help too much to know the Astros finished with the same BaseRuns record as the Rangers. This was a step down from the Astros’ breakthrough 2015. They didn’t make it into the playoffs. They did play mostly reasonable baseball, with Jose Altuve establishing himself as one of the best all-around players in the sport. Alex Bregman debuted, and they signed Yulieski Gurriel. How did it feel to follow a decent team, that was supposed to be a good team, after the first year of being a good team, after years of being a dreadful team?
The A’s were terrible, with terrible defense and terrible health. Sonny Gray had a terrible ERA, and Billy Butler had a terrible attitude. As I squint for the plus sides, Ryon Healy was a hell of a rookie. Khris Davis couldn’t stop hitting dingers, and the front office got a strong return for Rich Hill. The A’s have something of a youth movement brewing. It’s better than not having anything.
Is it enough to once again fall a step short of the pennant? Last year, the Jays lost the ALCS in six games. This year, they lost it in five, and losing that close to the championship is probably a brutal feeling. Yet if the crowds were any indication, the Jays provided wonderful daily entertainment, and the Aaron Sanchez breakthrough should help to offset some of the negative feelings around potentially losing Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The Jays haven’t won it all, but they are clearly back to relevance.
My only concern is that this project might be taking place too close to the Game 7 loss. And to the Game 6 loss, and to the Game 5 loss. Indians fans, I’m sure, are heartbroken. Even if you concede having lost to a superior ballclub, you don’t want to lose those three games in a row. In the deepest, darkest moments, there might be fantasizing about how things could’ve gone with Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. But, I mean — well, how much does the end do to dampen the enthusiasm about everything else? This is on you, not me.
For the 15th consecutive season, the Mariners very much did not make the playoffs, but for the second time in three seasons, there was at least a fleeting glimpse of playoff-style baseball there toward the end. There were a few days of thinking that anything could be possible, and for that to be the case around the end of September, the previous months couldn’t have gone too poorly. The Mariners also experienced a wholesale organizational shift, and whether you like Jerry Dipoto or not, things now are different.
From 2007 – 2011, only the Pirates won fewer games than the Orioles. From 2012 – 2016, the Orioles have won more games than any other team in the American League. For the third time in five years, the Orioles technically got to see the playoffs, and even though they stuck around for only one game — one horribly memorable game — with that rotation, the fact that the Orioles got so far anyway felt like a miracle. Manny Machado was amazing again. Zach Britton had one of the best relief seasons ever. To what extent did Buck Showalter leave the season with a sour aftertaste?
For as much as we wrote about the Rangers, they wound up with the best record in the American League, and they got there by having one of the most clutch seasons in baseball history. My hunch is that it’s incredibly fun to follow a clutch team that’s constantly getting underrated, because you get to experience wins while preserving that sensation of being an underdog. The hasty playoff exit was rough, though. The Rangers played 165 baseball games. Just under 2% of those were playoff games. How much does that matter to you?
Good news, Rays fans! Your team had a BaseRuns record of 81-81. The Rangers had a BaseRuns record of 82-80. Eh? Ehhh? The Rays were out of it by the beginning of June, and, not coincidentally, they played their worst baseball with Kevin Kiermaier on the sidelines. On the plus side, Evan Longoria had his best season in years, and Blake Snell made 19 starts. You can look closely and see a potentially competitive Rays team in the season ahead. Does that help?
The Red Sox were probably the best team in the American League. The roster core here is about as good as anyone else’s, so that has to feel good when you have the future in mind. This year the Red Sox also got to experience the final season of David Ortiz, who had one of the best final seasons anyone’s ever watched. The crippling part was the three-game exit. That has to just bum you out, even though the Sox are in as good a position as anybody in the league.
Mike Moustakas couldn’t play the full season. Lorenzo Cain couldn’t play the full season. Alex Gordon couldn’t play the full season. Wade Davis couldn’t play the full season. The Royals never really got where they wanted to be, devastated by a 7-19 July. A 20-9 August got them into the race for a short stretch, rekindling some of those magical feelings. All told, there have been far better seasons had in defense of titles won. But the Royals won a freaking title just the fall before. So what was the carryover effect?
Only in May did the Tigers play under .500. Compared to the year before, they improved by 12 wins, so the Tigers’ rebuild was a short one. Which isn’t to say that it’s complete or anything, but the Tigers got back to clawing for a playoff spot, with a rejuvenated Justin Verlander leading the staff. You can’t help but wonder what they might’ve accomplished if Justin Upton had shown up earlier on, but there was meaningful baseball again in Detroit. For one more year, they delayed careening over the cliff.
Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September. Total catastrophe. Byron Buxton hit nine dingers in September.
A new front office has been installed. At last, the organization is going to be run differently. But the 2016 Twins felt like they were going to turn on the success of Buxton, Byung-ho Park, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios. They combined to be worth 2.7 WAR. Robbie Grossman was the team’s second-best hitter. I’m sorry for what you all had to go through.
Sure, they might’ve given the boot to Drake LaRoche, but Chris Sale channeled the spirit of a child in the clubhouse when he cut up all those jerseys. These are the two stories by which the 2016 White Sox might long be remembered. Do you remember that they started 23-10? I didn’t. But that was a nasty trick, because it made the team seem relevant. Once again, it couldn’t stay relevant, despite the somewhat enviable core. You can give Rick Hahn one thing — he has stubbornly continued to try.
This was a very different type of Yankees season. A very differently enviable type of Yankees season. While the Yankees didn’t accumulate more wins than anyone, they did play decent baseball, and what they really accumulated was high-level talent in the bigs and at the upper levels of the system. This 2016 Yankees season was more about the 2017 Yankees season, and the 2020 Yankees season, and while I don’t know how it feels to be a Yankees fan while the team focuses on the future, it’s a change, if nothing else. And many seem to have found it refreshing.